What’s the issue with making Conflicts optional? An element that can be added later once groups have acquired a bit more system mastery?
You’d have to modify things a bit to take conflicts totally out. Perhaps margin of failure/success could determine level of compromise. For instance, a Fighter (Kill) test (treating weapons as non-expendable supplies):
[li]MARGIN OF FAILURE
[/li][li]1: everyone helping is exhausted. If already exhausted, injured on an armor check failure. Dead if already injured. Many enemies are injured and killed; you may flee or bargain.
[/li][li]2: everyone helping is exhausted. If already exhausted, injured on an armor check failure. Dead if already injured. Few enemies are injured and killed; you may flee or bargain.
[/li][li]3: everyone helping is exhausted. If already exhausted, injured on an armor check failure. Dead if already injured. Few enemy casualties if any. You are at their mercy.
[/li][li] Plus a twist or condition. (Optional)
[/li][li]MARGIN OF SUCCESS
[/li][li]1: everyone helping is exhausted. If already exhausted, injured on an armor check failure. Dead if already injured. Many enemies are killed; the rest flee or bargain.
[/li][li]2: most enemies killed; the rest flee or bargain.
[/li][li]3: most if not all enemies killed; they are at your mercy.
For an example, Brother Adelphus the Cleric Disciple (Health 6, Fighter 2, leather, mace, shield, exhausted) is fighting a goblin. He tests 4d (Fighter 2 + Mace 1D + Shield 1D) vs goblin’s 4D (Nature 3 + Club 1D) and loses by 1. We read from the failure consequences: he’s already exhausted; so he checks his leather: 6 means he’s luckily still uninjured. However, only “many” of the enemy are injured and killed at a maximum. So we’ll say the goblin is only injured. Bro Adelphus elects to flee, but I apply a twist: the goblin grabs him by his backpack strap and rips it off as he escapes.
Alternately (Torchbearer Expert), what would be wrong with taking the scripting-ahead out of conflicts? Off the top of my head:
[li]Surprise/Dispo as usual
[/li][li]Initiative by side (determined fictionally, randomly, or by test)
[/li][li]Winner of initiative secretly notes move, then fictionally initiates it (GM notes feint, then says, “The hobgoblins charge straight at your front rank.”)
[/li][li]Loser of initiative selects move and declares intent. (Caller selects Defend. “Shields up. We’re holding the line.”)
[/li][li]Resolve (Feint beats Defend something awful.)
[/li][li]GM narrates to update fiction (“A ruse! The charge only masked a flank by their archers!”)
[/li][li]Initiative of next action determined by winner of previous action
What are the problems I’m overlooking? (Other than: this is a hack.)
You might get into arguments with the ‘Expert’ approach, about whether what they described was appropriate to the actions they chose. Unless you specify that ‘Attack’ and ‘Feint’ are specifically described similarly, and that defend has to be obviously defend and maneuver has to be obviously maneuver. Still, it breaks the feel of the rock, paper, scissors game-play.
The ‘Basic’ approach doesn’t sound bad for easy new players into the system. It doesn’t grant as many tests or opportunities for checks as a conflict, which is kind of a big deal, so it might actually make the adventure harder for players, but it could make the rules easier as they are first learning the ropes. On the other hand, if you then later spring the full conflict system on them they might reject it because A) it’s unfamiliar compared to most rpgs, and B) you didn’t introduce it as integral. And if they do reject it, it will be hard to get them to adopt it and you may be stuck with Basic. I would judge it by the nature of the group, if they like new and novel systems then it might be ok not to introduce full conflicts right away, if they are stubborn, habit driven, and close-minded then it’s probably best to be upfront and make it an integral part of the system.
Also weapons become insignificant.
Besides that I think is a cool idea. If your goal is introducing the players to this new game I would suggest that you apply this rules with Wandering monsters or critters they’ll find in the first couple of rooms and the “Expert” rules with the big bad of the dungeon.
The Basic approach, beyond removing opportunities for easy check-generating and free tests (no, really–it’s a simple way to give one test to each character at the expense of one turn overall), also hinges some pretty hefty consequences on a single versus test. That’s dangerous. That said, it’s an interesting idea. It may prove to enthuse players about the full conflict system when you break it out to them.
Thanks for the thoughtful feedback.
I’ve not played yet; so this hack won’t see action until we’ve run things RAW for a while.
Conflicts generate significant tension that add to the overall pace of the game.
I also think things would get far more swingy. A conflict lasts several rounds and many people participate, this allows for the statistically stronger team to prevail more often. Take that out, and single rolls can and will swing wildly throughout the game.
As well, you really leave out other players, or leave them feeling quite useless if they don’t have a significant rank in Fighter. Having a few players with Fighter 2 or 3 can be great in a Conflict. If you take that away, anyone with less than 4 could become a liability.
Not saying anyone will like it (even me—I haven’t yet played), but, to address your last issue, there’s nothing stopping characters with the Fighter skill from helping
But you would end up with a system where you would only let one player ever lead the way in a Fighter test, and everyone else would just be background noise. It would be the equivalent of DnD 4Es skill system where you tried to have the person with the highest skill making the checks.
Yes, your best fighter would make the fight check unless incapacitated or conditioned out, and the other participants would help and be subject to the same penalties.
Just like your best carpenter makes all the bridges.
Those with the higher skills can always opt out so as to help the lower skilled characters rank up.